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Glossary of terms

ACE inhibitors
A group of medicines used to treat high blood pressure. Also used to treat diabetes-related kidney disease.

Angina
Pain in or around the chest caused by a restriction in the blood supply to the heart.

Angiotensin 2 receptor antagonists
A group of medicines used to treat high blood pressure. Also used to treat diabetes-related kidney disease.

Antibody
Substance produced by the immune system in response to ‘foreign’ bodies, eg. viruses.

Arterial disease
Diseases of the circulation, the blood vessels which carry blood and oxygen around the body.

Basal insulin

Slow-acting insulin.

Beta cells

The cells of the pancreas that produce insulin.

Bolus insulin

A dose of fast-acting insulin given immediately before or after a meal.

Calories
The amount of energy that is provided by food.

Carbohydrates
One of the major food groups. Includes starchy foods such as rice, pasta, and bread, as well as sugary foods. Carbohydrates are converted into glucose inside the body, which provides energy to the body’s cells.

Carbohydrate counting
A system used by people with diabetes to balance insulin doses with the amount of carbohydrate consumed.

Cardiovascular disease
Disease of the heart and blood vessels.

Cholesterol
A fatty substance found in the bloodstream. Too much of a certain type of cholesterol (LDL cholesterol), or too little of another (HDL cholesterol) increases risk of heart disease. The amount of cholesterol found in the blood is influenced by the food we eat: eating too much saturated or trans fat increases LDL cholesterol.

Dehydration
A reduction in the body’s usual water content.

Diabetes
Diabetes is a condition in which there is too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood.

Diabetic ketoacidosis
A condition where the body uses stored fat as a source of energy instead of glucose, allowing ketones to build up in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency.

Diabetic retinopathy
A complication caused by diabetes, in which the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, is damaged.

Gestational diabetes
A type of diabetes that first appears in pregnancy.

Glucagon
A hormone produced by the pancreas which increases blood glucose levels. Glucagon is also used to treat hypoglycaemic attacks.

Glucose
A type of sugar that is produced in the body from carbohydrate foods. Used to provide the body with energy. Blood glucose is often called blood sugar.

Glycaemic index
A system of ranking foods according to their effect on blood glucose levels. Foods with a high glycaemic index (or GI) are converted into glucose quickly, whereas low-GI foods produce slower increases in glucose.

HbA1c
The HbA1c test is a blood test used to monitor longer-term blood glucose control. The test measures the amount of glucose that was in the blood between 6 to 12 weeks before the test was taken.

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol
‘Good’ cholesterol. HDL cholesterol protects against heart disease.

Heart disease
Disease of the heart and blood vessels.

Hormone
Chemical produced by the body to control the actions of organs or cells.

Hyperglycemia
High blood glucose levels.

Hypoglycemia
Low blood glucose levels.

Hypoglycemic attack

A group of symptoms, including feeling sweaty, shaky, irritable or confused, that occur when blood glucose levels drop too low. This can be caused by taking too much insulin, by too much exercise, too little food, or other factors.

Immune system
The body’s defence system.

Impaired glucose tolerance
A condition where the amount of glucose in the blood is raised, although not at the level where diabetes is diagnosed.

Insulin
A hormone produced by the pancreas. Insulin controls the movement of glucose from the bloodstream to the cells, where it is used to provide the body with energy.

Insulin pen
A pen-shaped device used to inject insulin.

Insulin pump
A small, battery-operated pump that delivers a continuous low dose of insulin through a fine tube inserted under the skin.

Insulin resistance
A condition where the body stops responding normally to insulin.

Ketoacidosis
A condition where the body uses stored fat as a source of energy instead of glucose, allowing ketones to build up in the bloodstream. Ketoacidosis is life-threatening and should be treated as a medical emergency. Also known as diabetic ketoacidosis.

Ketones
Ketones are waste products which are produced when the body breaks down stored fat to produce energy.

Lancet
A device used to prick the finger.

LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol

‘Bad’ cholesterol. Too much LDL cholesterol increases the risk of heart disease.

Metabolic
Relating to metabolism, the name for the physical and chemical processes that occur in the body.

Metabolic syndrome
A group of conditions that tend to occur together, and which increase risk of heart disease. Signs of the metabolic syndromes include overweight/obesity, increased waistline, high blood pressure, low levels of HDL cholesterol, and high levels of triglycerides.

Microalbuminuria
The presence of albumin, a protein, in the urine. This is an early sign of kidney disease.

mmol/L
Millimoles per litre. The unit of measurement used to describe blood glucose levels.

Obesity
When a person’s weight is substantially higher than the weight that is considered normal and healthy for his/her height.

Oral diabetes medications
Medicines used to treat type 2 diabetes that are in tablet form.

Oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT)
A test which can be used to diagnose diabetes. The test measures the amount of glucose in the blood before and after a glucose drink has been given.

Overweight
When a person’s weight is higher than the weight that is considered normal and healthy for his/her height.

Pancreas
A small gland-like organ that sits behind the stomach. The pancreas produces insulin.

Retina
The light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye.

Retinopathy
A complication caused by diabetes, in which the retina, the light-sensitive tissue at the back of the eye, is damaged.

Stroke
A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain becomes blocked, or when there is bleeding in the brain. Stroke results in the loss of brain cells. This can affect a variety of functions, including movement, speech and thinking.

Triglycerides
The type of fat found in the bloodstream, which is created from fats and carbohydrate in food. High levels of triglycerides can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Type 1 diabetes
In type 1 diabetes, the body’s immune system attacks the cells that make insulin and so very little or no insulin is produced. This form of diabetes is most commonly seen in children and younger people. Formerly known as ‘juvenile diabetes’ or ‘insulin-dependent diabetes’.

Type 2 diabetes
In type 2 diabetes, the body either does not produce enough insulin, or is unable to use insulin normally. Type 2 diabetes usually occurs in adults older than 40 years but is becoming more common in younger adults. Some ethnic groups are at greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly people of South Asian, African and African-Caribbean descent. Formerly known as ‘adult-onset diabetes’ or ‘non-insulin-dependent diabetes’.

 

Features

Insulin

Insulin
Description:
Many people with diabetes take insulin to control their blood glucose levels. People with type 1 diabetes must take insulin every day. In type 2 diabetes, blood glucose can often be controlled by making changes in lifestyle, such as diet and weight loss

Oral medication (tablets)

Oral medication (tablets)
Description:
Oral diabetes medicines are used to treat type 2 diabetes only.